Data.gov, the repository for publicly available data that was promised as a platform to power software and analysis created by and for the public, will remain open. But "there will be no enhancements or other development to address needs for improvement." According to an analysis of Kundra's letter by the watchdog Sunlight Foundation, Data.gov may slow drastically in its efforts to both offer more data and ensure the quality of that data. Other programs, specifically the Fedspace social network for collaboration between federal employees and the Citizen Services Dashboard for reviewing the quality of federal services, will be shut down.
It's amazing that a time when the private sector is growing fully aware of the huge potential in Big Data, the US Federal Government can barely maintain its own minimal projects on the topic.
Global consulting firm McKinsey published a major new report this week on the topic of big data, saying it "will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus as long as the right policies and enablers are in place."
Discussing that report, leading data visualization blogger Nathan Yau writes:
"I've said it before, but if digging into data is your idea of fun, there's a whole mess of excitement and adventure headed your way. There are lots of opportunities already out there in marketing, journalism, tech, the Web, government, and pretty much everywhere you look. And more importantly, there are lots of opportunities that you can make for yourself. This is a great time for data heads."
It's heartbreaking that the Federal Government's engagement with this historic meta-opportunity appears to be waning already.